Get Away: Door County, Wisconsin
Across the Midwest, Door County is known as the place to go to see fall colors. Heavily wooded, replete with windy roads and miles of craggy shoreline, the peninsula juts out into the northwest portion of Lake Michigan. The drive from Chicago is about five hours away -- a lengthy trek, no doubt -- but with trees bursting in a symphony of reds, yellows, browns, and oranges, the views along the way will reward you for the effort you expend getting there. Door County, which got its nickname from French explorers who saw its nearby water passage as a "Door to the Dead" or Ports des Morts, is pretty much the perfect Midwest weekend getaway. I remember going up there as a kid with my family, grandparents in tow, to see the changing colors and perhaps catch a glimpse of the goats grazing atop Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant.
As an adult, the roof-goats seem like less of an attraction. Instead, I prefer the idea of grabbing a room at Lodgings at Pioneer Lane, a family-owned inn situated in the town of Ephraim. The owners rent out eight rooms of varied decorating styles to visiting guests and offer such cute extras as a pair of first-come, first-serve bikes. The inn is a certified Travel Green Wisconsin business, and also won a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor this year.
If there's anything that really catches my eye when it comes to relaxing getways, it's the chance to relax the way I know best: with a book. "There are beautiful flowers planted all over and very nicely maintained grounds. I felt like grabbing a book and just sitting out front enjoying the view of the Inn!" wrote one reviewer on TripAdvisor. Consider me sold.
Based on its location, Door County has access to some of the freshest fish in the north Midwest. Seafood fanatic that I am, simply the thought of fresh-caught whitefish makes me salivate. And when it's offered broiled with lemon and dill alongside oven roasted potatoes and fresh, local vegetables, it's really hard to resist. That's why the one restaurant I'd absolutely have to eat at is at the White Gull Inn. The dish I just mentioned is offered indoors, but what I'd really like is a lively outdoor seafoodapalooza unique to this region. Chicago Magazine recommends the Inn's fish boil over others in the area since it's prepared over an open fire. Can you think of a better way to spend a chilly fall night?
Unfortunately for Elsa Emerson, cherry season has already passed this year. Midwest Living recommends Seaquist Orchards Farm Market and Sweetie Pies for cherry treats you can enjoy on the spot or take home with you. For a list of recommended pick-your-own cherry orchards, visit wisconsincherries.org and start planning your trip for next summer.
Your turn: Have you been to Door County? Share some travel tips in the comments!